Live streaming: A new way to connect with audiences


It seems like in the 21st century, there is a constant flow of new digital platforms to use. First it was MySpace, then we moved to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. More recently, these platforms have expanded to offer a faster, more direct approach to users with apps that allow users to live stream video that others can watch in real time.

Exploring new territory

One of the most popular of the new live streaming apps is Periscope, created by the makers of Twitter, launched a little over a year ago. Billed as an experience that “can take you someplace and show you around,” Periscrope has been used by notable tweeters from news organizations as well as celebrities and TV show hosts, to name a few. Remember when CNN correspondents used the medium while awaiting the birth of Will and Kate’s Princess Charlotte? Or when The Ellen Show took viewers behind the scenes and to the streets of California? Celebrities such as Jimmy Fallon, Justin Timberlake and Tyra Banks also have been taking to the live-streaming app.

Before Periscope, there was Meerkat, which became almost irrelevant after Apple named Periscope the best iOS app in 2015. Facebook Live was released last August and has become more popular in recent months. During my last semester working as the Design Editor at The State News, we began experimenting with Facebook Live and used it successfully to cover the Annual Native American Pow Wow at Michigan State University.

Connect in real time

So why is live streaming video becoming a hit?

News organizations are using this to grab the attention of smartphone users while they’re scrolling through social media. A live video is going to be more intriguing than a link to a news story, and media outlets are using this to their advantage.

On both Twitter and Facebook, these interfaces are available when followers are scrolling through their news feed. When users log on, a bar shows up on the top saying  someone they follow is streaming live and urging them to click to view the video.

Stay on the look out

If your organization has become interested in these live-streaming apps, be sure to use these guidelines to create a professional looking video.

  • Turning your phone vertical will optimize the screen and make your video look cleaner and crisper.
  • Be sure to avoid taping things that you don’t have the rights to record. This includes television shows, movie theater movies, sporting events where certain networks have reserved rights (mostly an issue with news organizations), and so on. Think before you click “record.”
  • Facebook Live will automatically save your live videos to your video tab on your page after you have finished recording. With Periscope, you are going to want to archive your streamed videos if you want to share them again on your website or through other social media sites.

Whichever medium you choose to use to share live streaming video, keep your audience engaged. Frequently check the live chat happening on the bottom of the video and share what your viewers want to see.

Happy streaming!

Katie Winkler is a student practitioner at Martin Waymire and a senior at Michigan State University majoring in journalism with a concentration in visual communication and a minor in public relations.